Log Splitting Lesson
How to Split Firewood with Less Strain
For those who love working up a good sweat, you still can split logs with manual tools like splitting mauls. You might not be able to spend an entire afternoon heaving a splitting maul over your head, however.
Nowadays, in the age of power tools, we've got plenty of more convenient ways to split firewood.
Log splitters are simple to use, but chopping your own firewood involves a few more steps beyond setting up a splitter. Don't worry. From felling to storage, we've got you covered with some great tips.
So take the strain out of log splitting, and join us on the path to Easy Street with these incredibly helpful tools of the trade.
Timber! (Fell Your Tree)
Before you can split logs, you've got to have logs. So cutting down (felling) a tree is typically the first step. In some cases, you might even have a tree that's fallen.
Whether you're felling a tree or not, you'll need to cut that tree into log segments. The recommended length for logs that will be used in a fireplace or wood-burning furnace is 14" to 18". Logs this size will also fit nicely on a log splitter
For power and efficiency, especially if you have a lot of wood to work with, consider using a chainsaw instead of a hand saw for the job. Chainsaws make it easy to cut trees into logs, and they'll leave you with enough energy to finish the job.
However, don't just pick the one that looks tough. Choose a chainsaw that'll do the job you need it to do. You can choose from several styles:
- Electric chainsaws
- Gas-powered chainsaws
- Pole saws
Our Chainsaw Buyer's Guide can help you pick the right saw to use on the wood you've got.
Measure and Mark Your Firewood
Instead of fumbling with an old-fashioned tape measure and chalk, use a firewood marker to accurately measure the distance between logs.
Insert a can of surveyor’s paint, and roll the wood marker down the log. It will mark perfectly measured cuts over, and over again.
Using a log marker will spare you the back pain that comes from bending over, and you won't get frustrated trying to measure consistently even segments of a tree with a ruler. Just click and roll to get quick marks with ease.
Prop Up Your Logs
Don't dull your chainsaw's chain by cutting dirt. Laying a log on the ground and cutting through into the soil will have you going through chains as quickly as you go through work socks.
Instead, just lift your logs off the ground with a log jack. Using one is like using a jack to raise your car while you change a tire.
Some log jacks can be used for additional purposes:
- Log roller
- Fence post or sapling puller
- Log carrier
Because they're so heavy-duty and easy to use, log jacks are some of the most valued logging tools on the market today.
Leave Your Logs to Age
Quality firewood needs to age like a fine cigar. As it sits by the fence post, the heat of the sun will bake the moisture out of it, and the wind will blow it away.
Set aside your logs and let them breathe. It's a lot easier to move and split dry, seasoned logs than it is to split fresh "green" logs that are denser because they're full of sap. Besides, instead of burning for a nice, long time, green wood tends to just smoke briefly before the flame dies out.
Instead, let your firewood turn nice and dark, and wait for the edges to crack a bit. For many logs, this will take at least six months. You'll see the benefits once it's ready:
- Lighter to carry
- Easier to split
- Better for longer-lasting fires
That's a lot of positives for such little work.
Split Your Logs
After your wood has cured, it's time to start up that log splitter. Whether you're using a gas-powered log splitter or an electric log splitter, you're on the right track. Log splitters save you a lot of shoulder and back pain caused by swinging an ax, a log wedge, or a splitting maul over and over again.
If you don't have one yet, our walk-through guide to log splitter styles will help you pick the perfect log splitter for your wood pile:
- Electric log splitters
- Gas-powered log splitters
- 3-point log splitters
- Skid steer log splitters
Just browse the details of each one to find the style that's right for you.
Stack and Store Your Firewood
Storing firewood isn't as easy as tossing it in a box and closing the lid. There are a few things you ought to know first.
Just as you had to season your firewood to dry it out, you'll want to store it properly to keep it dry. That doesn't mean zip-locking it in a bag though, because you also don't want to trap any moisture against the wood.
Protect your investment from insect infestations by keeping it neatly stacked off the ground with a firewood rack. And store it in a breezy place away from your home to keep vermin from sneaking in your back door.
While a lot of people may stack firewood against the side of a garage or a barn, that's not necessarily the best way. It's ideal to leave a gap behind the stack as well so air can access the wood from all sides. To learn the ins-and-outs of firewood storage, follow the link below.